When science learning materials in print frustrate or close out students who struggle with traditional learning materials, alternative media can get students back into the game. There are many free digital options that can engage learners and keep their attention while they provide opportunities for skills, understanding, and vocabulary to grow.
Many Roads To Content
The Smithsonian Science Education Center provides free children's online games and apps with links to the App Store and Google Play. There is an e-book that could be helpful if a reading toolbar is added as this book, while rich in content, is published as static digital text without accessibility features.
These resources focus on science, technology, engineering, (art) and math STEM/STE(A)M).
- BumperDucks is a physical science game for students in Grades 6-8. Players find out about collisions and how mass impacts the acceleration of an object when ducks try to reach tasty treats. These are located across a pond filled with turtles, frogs, and logs waiting to knock players off the course. What strategies will work to clear the way?
- Shutterbugs, requires players in Kindergarten and Grade 1 to help Ada, a female zookeeper locate animals in action. Players learn about movement and motion as they take photos of life at a zoo. Find free coloring-page print outs, too.
- Showbiz Safari asks players in Grades 1-3 to think about attributes related to the diversity of plants and animals in different habitats. Players help Walrus cast characters in a movie by determining traits that best suit each character's role.
- Habitats is a life science matching game for Grade 3-6. Players explore the desert, coral reef, jungle, and marsh to discover why animals are suited to particular environments.
- Weather Lab is an app that gives players in Grades 5-8 a glimpse into the profession of meteorology and offers players experience in making predictions. It models the complex interactions between air masses and ocean currents, but like all models it represents probable outcomes.
- Expedition Insects is an "e-book" aligned with Next Generation Science Standards for Grades 3-5. Readers travel around the world to visit six different types of insects in their natural habitats. The version online is not an accessible e-book with built-in learning supports, so a floating toolbar or add-on software would be needed for students who need supports in order to access this text.
More Free Resources
TThe following free resources come from other institutions at no cost:
- MIT App Inventor:This app for Grades 6-12 comes from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a teacher's guide to get kids off to a good start. Nearly 300K used the app this month to create their own apps.
- Hopscotch: This is an award-winning app, also for Grades 4-6, and has several updates. It is designed for an iPad or iPhone. Students learn skills involving sequencing, abstraction, values, and conditionals as they create original games, animation, and art.
- NASA Visualization Explorer: This hub for astronomy is designed for students in Grades 2-12, as well as postsecondary learners. Students work with visuals from authentic space research, including moon landings to the outer edges of the Kuiper Belt. Learn about the solar system, space exploration, and global climate shift.
Thank you to AIM-VA: Accessible Instructional Materials for sharing this blog with our Reading Rockets audience.